15 Best Things to Do in Wailuku, Hawaii

Wailuku, HI
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Situated at the foot of the West Maui Mountains is the island of Wailuku, a commercial center and county seat of Maui’s government.

Aside from its vibrant culture, Wailuku is also home to several historical sites that tell the story of Hawaii and Wailuku’s early days.

Several areas of the island were treated as burial grounds for Hawaiian chiefs and places where rituals were held.

The island also served as a settlement area for missionaries during the 19th century and had sugar as one of its staples in the business sector.

Today, the island continues to pay homage to its roots by preserving its cultural sites and is now thriving in the business sector with various products and services.

Check out 15 of the best things to do and adventures to experience while in Wailuku, Hawaii.

Traverse the Waihe’e Ridge Trail

View near the top of Waihe’e Ridge Trail
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The Waihe’e Ridge Trail west of the Maui Forest Reserve offers hikers a magnificent view from all angles.

Trail runners and hikers are sure to enjoy looking at the lush rainforest valley, the Makamakaole Falls from a distance, the crystal waters from the ocean, and more.

Trees along Waihe’e Ridge Trail
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This moderately challenging route spans 66.4km in the distance and takes less than three hours to complete.

If you’re looking to take a break during the hike, you’ll find picnic tables set up along the trail where you can take a breather before resuming your adventure.

From there, you can enjoy the tall trees that decorate the trail and listen to the echoes of chirping birds.

Spend a Day at Paukukalo Beach

Swimming is not the only activity visitors of Paukukalo Beach can enjoy.

Aside from getting your feet wet in the crystal clear waters of Paukukalo Beach, you can also enjoy a day of camping, paddling,  and so much more.

Take a nap under the cool shade of an umbrella or palm tree and feel the fine sand beneath you.

You can also catch some waves and go surfing.

Fishing is also a popular activity in the area, and if you’re looking to grab a bite after a long day, snack bars are available nearby.

Go Sightseeing at the Haleki’i-Pihana Heiau State Monument

Nestled between Hea Place and Akuluikuli Way is the Haleki’i-Pihana Heiau State Monument, also known as the “house of images” and “gathering place of high supernatural beings.”

This historic landmark is known as the last heiau or Hawaiian temple within the Kahului-Wailuku area.

The heiaus overlooked Iao Valley and Kahului Bay and were also used as dedicated spaces for rituals and ceremonies for Kū, the god of war.

Tourists who wish to visit the site are required to traverse the path by foot, as vehicles are prohibited from entering the area.

The state monument is also famed for its overlooking and panoramic views of the island, so you’re sure to get a bunch of Instagram-worthy photos for your feed.

Explore Iao Valley State Park

Lush trees at Iao Valley State Park
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Tourists wishing to catch the best views in Wailuku can head over to Iao Valley State Park.

The 4,000-acre park has a 10-mile pathway decorated with the most scenic views.

Hiking trail at Iao Valley State Park
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As you walk around, you’ll get to see towering emerald peaks adorning the valley floor, and lush green trees lined up along the walkway.

From the park, you’ll see the Iao Needle, which is the state park’s main attraction.

The Iao Needle stands at 1,200 feet and overlooks the Iao stream.

Koi pond at Iao Valley State Park's Japanese garden
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The high peak was naturally formed due to the erosion of soft rock around the area and is known as the phallic stone of the god of the ocean.

Many tourists and locals flock to this park to catch the Iao Needle’s breathtaking sight as it is surrounded by a sea of clouds.

The Iao neddle view from Iao Valley State Park
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Catch Live Performances at the Iao Theater

Theater acts are very much alive at the Iao Theater down on Market Street.

The theater opened its doors to the public in 1928 and served as the main entertainment center for the people of Wailuku.

The bustling performing arts center was also famed for its Spanish Mission style, boasting red-tiled roofs, round-arched doorways, a sloped auditorium, and a centered Baroque gable that made the establishment and artwork in itself.

The theater closed its doors during the 1980s and was set for demolition a decade after.

But today, the Iao Theater has found a new family in the figure of the Maui On Stage theater group, which continues to produce theatrical acts that the public can surely enjoy.

The theater group features a wide variety of productions that are suitable for both kids and adults.

Get Up Close and Personal with Maui’s Marine Life at the Maui Ocean Center

Take a closer look at Maui County’s diverse marine life at the Maui Ocean Center on Maalea Rd.

The ocean center first opened its doors to the public in 1998 and has served as a dedicated protector to Maui County’s aquatic family members.

Check out the center’s 750,000-gallon tank and feel like you’re walking on the ocean floor as local sharks, stingrays, and tropical reef fish swim above you.

You can also explore various exhibits inside the ocean center and get a good grasp of the culture and traditions of the first Hawaiians, as well as learn about the living reef.

Tourists can also visit the turtle lagoon and check out the humpbacks of Hawaii through a virtual sphere exhibit.

Dive Into Wailuku’s Religious Origins at Ka’ahumanu Church

Exterior of Ka’ahumanu Church
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Named after Queen Ka’ahumanu, the Ka’ahumanu Church on High Street is a sight to behold with its New England style of Gothic architecture.

The church was built in 1875 by Edward Bailey and serves as the fourth place of worship for the congregation.

Churchgoers enjoy a blend of Hawaiian and English languages during Sunday services in this historic establishment.

Service schedules of Ka’ahumanu Church
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Tourists can also book a tour around the area and learn about the church’s history and the lives of the people who were buried nearby.

You can also check out the Mauka Graveyard, which only has one headstone mounted there.

It actually represents the final resting place of Mrs. Adelucia Lee Conde, wife of former Rev. Daniel Joll Conde.

Learn about Maui County’s Rich History at the Maui Historical Society

History buffs can swing by Main Street to get a glimpse of Maui County’s early days and development.

The Maui Historical Society is home to over 2,000 artifacts, archives,  and historic photographs that tell Maui’s humble beginnings.

Learn about the county’s past as you wander around Hale Hō ‘ike ’ike and get up close and personal with artifacts dating back to pre-recorded times.

You’ll also want to check out the Keōpūolani Room, home to the largest public collection of Hawaiian artifacts in Maui County.

Inside the exhibit, you’ll get to see artifacts like fine kapa, ko’i, lei hulu, a statue of Kamapua’a the prankster demigod, and so much more.

You can also check out Hālau Wa’a, or the Canoe House, which contains Hōnaunau, a 100+-year-old canoe and the last fishing canoe carved out of koa log.

The Maui Historical Society also showcases special seasonal exhibits that display Hawaii’s culture and heritage.

Swing by Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge

Known to be one of the most significant cultural sites in Hawaii, Waihe’e Coastal Dunes and Wetlands Refuge is an area that preserves natural wildlife habitats.

The once-thriving area was graced with countless species of birds, decorated with flora and fauna, and provided a path that allowed people to reach the west end of Moloka’i from Hana.

The habitat is also rich in terms of historical significance.

The land was previously inhabited by kings, a birthplace for Hawaiian legends, and a battleground for several wars.

Tourists are welcome to visit the site and are encouraged to volunteer and participate in the habitat’s restoration and conservation projects.

Tour the Maui Tropical Plantation

Scenic view of Maui Tropical Plantation
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Explore the Maui Tropical Plantation and get the ultimate island living experience.

This farm along Honoapiilani Highway offers breathtaking views of Hawaii’s magnificent botanicals.

Plants at Maui Tropical Plantation's botanical garden
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Indulge in the heavenly scents of coffee, macadamia, nuts, avocado, papaya, and more as you walk around the plantation.

During the tour, you can also get front row seats to coconut husking demonstrations and get the chance to do it yourself.

Once the tour ends, you can stop by The Mill House near the plantation, a restaurant spearheaded by award-winning master chefs.

Vibrant plants at Maui Tropical Plantation
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Experience the Lei Day Heritage Festival

If you’re planning to go to Wailuku in May, make sure to catch the Led Day Heritage Festival on the 1st.

Lei Day has been Hawaii’s long-standing holiday that has been celebrated for over 85 years.

The lei or flower necklace is considered Hawaii’s symbol of love and appreciation that is recognized all over the world.

Get ready for a series of festivities such as musical shows, dancing, and contests.

Lei-making contests are a staple during the festival, as well as the crowning of the Lei Queen for children.

Artisans also host workshops where they show various techniques in making flowers, feathers, Ti leaf, native plants, and Haku leis.

Taste Local Brews from Wailuku Coffee Company

Coffee lovers are in for a real treat at Wailuku Coffee Company.

Situated on Market Street, this family-owned coffee shop serves local brews that locals and tourists have come to love.

The small yet welcoming coffee shop has a rustic vibe, featuring wooden wall panels, dim lighting, and cream-colored coffee tables and couches.

Indulge in the nutty and caramel aroma of freshly brewed coffee as you walk inside the shop.

You can also take your pick from a wide variety of brews, such as decaf espressos, Maui Red Catuai, organic fresh roast, and more.

Another thing to love about this coffee shop is that it supports local artists and charities.

The shop hosts monthly art exhibits where 15% of the sales go to partner institutions.

It also has a Golden Blend Coffee product, where 100% of its sales go back to the community.

Breeze Past Wailuku with Flyin’ Hawaiian Zipline

Tourist getting ready to hop on Flyin’ Hawaiian Zipline
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If you’re looking for a unique experience while exploring the sights of Wailuku, you might want to check out Flyin’ Hawaiian Zipline.

Hawaii’s most extreme zip line service features eight zip lines ranging from 250 to 3,600 feet.

Get unparalleled views of the north and south shores and the Haleakala.

You’ll also get to see a panoramic view of the Valley Isle from your zipline adventure.

Along your 2.5-mile journey, you’ll get to cross nine valleys and 11 ridges all in all.

Experience First Friday Wailuku

The first Friday of every month is a special time for the people in Wailuku.

It’s also a great day to experience the bustling environment of the island.

From 6-9 pm, the Friday Town Party occurs along Market Street.

Dive into the festivities of local music and entertainment, explore arts and crafts, and taste local delicacies and other dishes during this festive event.

During the event, make sure to park your vehicles somewhere near, as Market Street won’t be passable for cars.

Ride a Horse with Mendes Ranch and Trail Rides, Inc.

Wailuku may be an island, but it also has great places where you can ride a horse and enjoy its natural wonders.

Mendes Ranch and Trail Rides offers visitors the chance to hop on their gentle giants and embark on an unforgettable journey.

Enjoy the cool breeze as you explore the ranch and what lies ahead.

Trail rides usually begin at the Mendes Ranch Corral, heading downwards to the valley and coastline, allowing guests to get a good view of the Pacific Ocean before heading back.

The company also allows private tours for up to six people, or you can book a horseback-helicopter combination for a magnificent bird’s eye view of the entire island.

Final Thoughts

Wailuku is indeed one of the best islands to visit while in Hawaii.

With its breathtaking views and fun adventures to experience, you wouldn’t want to waste a day sitting in your hotel room doing nothing.

Book your trip to Wailuku today and make the most out of your trip!